17 May 2012

Method of Initiating an Inquisition

The Malleus Maleficarum by Kramer and Sprenger, 1489, Excerpts

The first is when someone accuses a person before a judge of the crime of heresy, or of protecting heretics, offering to prove it, and to submit himself to the penalty of talion if he fails to prove it. The second method is when someone denounces a person, but does not offer to prove it and is not willing to embroil himself in the matter. The third method involves an inquisition, that is, when there is no accuser or informer, but a general report that there are witches in some town or place. Let him take note that there are ways by which a witch can be convicted, namely, by witnesses, by direct evidence of the fact, and by her own confession.

First, that her house should be searched as thoroughly as possible, in all holes and corners and chests, top and bottom; and if she is a noted witch, then without doubt, unless she has previously hidden them, there will be found various instruments of witchcraft, as we have shown above.

Secondly, if she has a maid-servant or companions, that she or they should be shut up by themselves; for though they are not accused, yet it is presumed that none of the accused's secrets are hidden from them.

Thirdly, in taking her, if she be taken in her own house, let her not be given time to go into her room; for they are wont to secure in this way, and bring away with them, some object or power of witchcraft which procures them the faculty of keeping silent under examination.

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